Sneaking a peek

Published 2:34 am Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Cheers echoed throughout the construction site for the new Opp Elementary School as teachers from South Highlands Elementary School arrived for their guided tour of the facility Tuesday afternoon.

SHES principal Brett Kinsaul said excitement has been constantly increasing for all staff members as the school’s projected completion date draws nearer.

“I have been to the site previously, but I have never had the opportunity to come out here with the teachers,” he said. “I called one of them on my way down to see if they had arrived and she said yes. I could hear them all clapping in the background. It is just exciting and we are all looking forward to it.

“All of the teachers are getting more excited as we get closer to moving into our new home,” he said. “Every time we do something at [SHES] we always say ‘this is our last time doing this here.’ We always keep in mind that we will be coming to our new school in the fall.”

Approximately $4.4 million has been spent to date during the construction process of the new elementary school and project foreman Mike Fleming of Whaley Construction Company said things are moving along according to schedule.

“We are pretty much finished with the roof for the structures,” he said. “We ran out of some screws and we are simply waiting on those materials to arrive to finish. We hope to be finished with the block work for the building by the end of November. Once we finish the blocks, then we will begin working on the brick and hope to finish that sometime in January.”

Fleming said overhead work will begin shortly after the completion of the block work and, after an inspection by the building commission, painting and floor covering work will begin.

“We have been striving to get the roof on these structures to account for the possibility of inclement weather,” Fleming said. “If we get some rainy weather in the winter, then it will not hurt as bad. We are to that point now. Unless it began raining so hard that we could not continue to mortar, then we can pretty much continue to work now.”

Emily Edgar, assistant superintendent for Opp City Schools, said the new elementary school will feature several focal areas of interest such as a well-designed gymnasium and a cutting edge library media resource center, but some design decisions were made to increase the safety of students.

“We will have a generator system installed at this new site,” Edgar said. “If we lose our power during inclement weather, then some key areas will continue to have power. The generator system will continue to power the coolers in the cafeteria and several different key power outlets throughout the school.”

Edgar said the new school’s design will allow students to travel from class to lunch, to the restroom or the gymnasium without exiting the building – a feature she said was requested during the design of the school.

“If you look at the campus you have now and you look at our layout here, then you can see the difference,” she said. “I would much rather be an administrator here than I would be there. I would feel like my group is within my reach. You do not have to walk outside when traveling through any portion of the structure.

“Anywhere you go now at [SHES] you have to walk out into the weather,” she added. “If someone needs to go to the restroom, then they have to go outside to reach the facility. It was important to us that we eliminate that area of concern and create an environment where children could travel to the various places of the school within leaving the secure space of the school.”